Stomatitis is a condition characterized by swelling and infection of the oral tissues. You may already know that stomatitis can affect people's mouths, but it's less well-known that cats can also get this disease. Here are four things cat owners need to know about feline stomatitis.
What are the signs of feline stomatitis?
The symptoms of feline stomatitis are easy to identify. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Very bad breath;
- Bleeding gums, which can leave visible blood on your cat's face or on their bedding;
- Pain when eating, which can manifest as avoiding their food or yelping when they eat;
- Drooling, which leads to saliva soaking the fur on their face and even their chest;
- Red, swollen tissues inside the mouth, including the gums and throat;
- Weight loss, which is caused by not wanting to eat due to pain.
If you notice any of these changes in your cat, take them to a vet right away. Your vet will examine your pet's oral tissues to make the diagnosis.
What causes feline stomatitis?
Veterinarians still don't know the exact cause of this condition, but they have some theories. One widely accepted theory is that the immune system overreacts to the presence of dental plaque (the film that builds up on your cat's teeth), which leads to swelling.
This condition is more common among certain breeds of cats than in others, which suggests that there may be a genetic link. Breeds like Siamese and Himalayans are often afflicted with this condition.
How serious is feline stomatitis?
Feline stomatitis is a very serious dental disease, so don't delay seeking treatment. This disease can be life-threatening if the infection spreads beyond the mouth or if the swelling in the throat impedes breathing, but with prompt treatment, your cat should be fine.
How do vets treat feline stomatitis?
Your vet will prescribe medications to reduce the pain and inflammation inside your cat's mouth, as well as medications to get rid of the infection.
Once the immediate threat has been dealt with, your vet will need to take steps to prevent the stomatitis from recurring. The only way to do this is to make sure that no plaque remains in your cat's mouth, and unfortunately, the only way to do this is to pull out their teeth. This seems drastic, but don't worry: cats can still eat and live happy lives without their teeth.
If you think your cat has feline stomatitis, see an emergency vet at an animal hospital right away.